Riding the Rails

Once the world’s dominant form of land transportation, railroads crisscrossed 250,000 miles of the United States in 1917. No wonder so much mythology grew around our steel highways. Pop culture has frequently paid homage in song. See if you can identify these paeans to trains from the following musical quotes:

1. You leave the Pennsylvania Station ’bout a
quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham’n eggs in Carolina.

2. He feels the piston scraping,
Steam breaking on his brow
Old Charlie stole the handle,
And the train won’t stop going
No way to slow down.

3. See the towns and the roads go a-whizzin’ by
Fare-thee-well Aramay, Albuquerque hi
Yessiree, here we are goin’ all the way
Mustn’t quit till we hit Californi-ay …

4. And the train is gone suddenly
On wheels clicking silently
Like a gently tapping litany
And he holds his crayon rosary
Tighter in his hand.

5. Picked up my bag, run to the station
Railman said, “you’ve got the wrong location.”
Picked up my bag, run right home
Then I find, I’ve got the number wrong.


7. ...Illinois Central Monday morning rail
Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.

8. She packed her bags, left me behind
She bought a ticket on the Central Line
Nights as I sleep, I hear that whistle whining
I feel her kiss in the misty rain ...

9. I love to hear the rhythm of the clicketyclack
And hear the lonesome whistle,
See the smoke from the stack
And pal around with democratic fellows
named “Mac,”
So take me right back to the track, Jack!

10. ...How much longer will it be
’Til we cross that Mason Dixon Line?
At daylight will you tell that engineer to slow
it down,
Or better still, just stop the train
’Cause I wanna look around.

11. Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train got my baby and gone.

12. This old engine makes it on time
Leaves Hazard Station ’bout a quarter to nine
Hits Trouble Junction at seventeen to
At a quarter to ten you know it’s drivin’ again.

13. ...I’ll be waiting at the station,
We’ll have time for coffee-flavored kisses
And a bit of conversation ...




Contest Rules

1. We are looking for the song title and songwriter’s name for each of the rail-inspired quotes.
2. Send your answers by no later than December 15 to:

The Last Word
c/o USC Trojan Family Magazine
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2538

Submissions by fax (213-821-1100) and e-mail magazines@usc.edu are also welcome. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

3. We will award up to five $30 gift certificates from Borders Books and Music to tuneful train buffs who don’t derail on any of these clues. If more than five of you deliver the full freight, winners will be drawn by lot.

Visit your neighborhood Borders Books and Music store for over 200,000 book, music and video titles in stock, plus special orders on most merchandise. Serving you throughout Southern California and across the nation.

Last Word Solutions - Autumn 2000

Illustration by Tom Bachtell

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